F’ville’s Mayor Steele seeks tax-funded call center for seniors’ transit needs


A proposal being suggested by Fayette and a number of other counties in the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) area is meant to address the current and future needs of the area’s rapidly aging population.

Being submitted for the Regional Transportation Roundtable (RTR) list of possible projects would be the establishment of a regional call center to serve older adults, the disabled and others throughout the 10-county that need transportation services.

The call center would match older adults, persons with disabilities and low-income citizens with the most effective and least expensive travel options.

The idea for the proposal came from the ARC 2008 Atlanta Regional Transportation Management Coordination Center Feasibility Study which cited the need for a physical system to provide scheduling, dispatching, vehicle tracking and trip booking through a fully integrated human services transportation system.

As envisioned in the study, the call center would share information, coordinate public and private transportation and integrate vehicle and service delivery.

Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele, who also serves as chairman of the ARC Aging Services Committee, said the project may be appropriate for Transportation Investment Act funding. Steele said Fayette and a number of other ARC counties recognize the current and future need and are submitting the same proposal for consideration by the RTR. If approved for the list, and if ultimately approved by voters in mid-2012, the call center could be established somewhere in the 10-county area.

“There’s a real need for senior transportation. The (counties) are applying in hopes of getting the funding,” Steele said. “By all the counties asking for it that means it is worthwhile region-wide.”

The proposal by Fayette and the other counties does not specify where the call center would be located. Nor does it specify if the call center would be operated by a private company or a public/private agreement.

“I don’t envision a public entitlement program. I would encourage a private or public/private (entity) to operate the center if it comes about. I would ultimately prefer a private provider,” Steele said.

The proposal calls for a one-call service center and accompanying web-based system to be built upon the previously established centers operated by ARC and the 211 service center operated by the United Way.

Fayette County has the third fastest growing older population in the ARC region. Fayette’s senior population is expected to increase 450 percent in less than 30 years.